TORONTO – Canadians in several cities were embarking on solidarity runs in defiance of whoever was behind the Boston Marathon bombings as Ottawa ramped up security at the country’s border crossings Tuesday.
Word of a patchwork of actions — from individual runs to larger group events — spread through Internet forums, social media and emails as many Canadians said nothing would stop them from continuing the sport they loved.
“This will unify us and keep us strong as a community,” Sarah Vingoe, 34, who ran the Boston Marathon in 2010.
“Instead of running into our homes and locking the doors and being scared, I think it’s bringing everyone together and reminding us why we go to these things.”
Vingoe, who works for a Toronto advertising company, was in Vancouver for business Tuesday and knew she’d be unable to take part in a solidarity run organized by a friend at home. So she went on her own solo run.
“It was pretty emotional. I think I ran a bit harder than I normally would and got a bit teary,” she said, adding that Monday’s events, gut wrenching as they were, wouldn’t stop avid runners from hitting the pavement.
“That fear is not going to let us not run anymore.”
In Toronto, running coach Megan Brown was planning to hold a candlelight vigil with her running team before the group of about 30 people set off on their training run.
“If we don’t carry on with our purest joyful activities such as running I think it’s only letting whoever was behind the actions yesterday win,” said Brown. “We need to carry on with life, especially parts of our life that are joyful.”
The Boston blasts have undoubtedly altered how runners will think about marathons to some extent, but Brown said that change wouldn’t be a crippling one.
“We’re forced to mourn the loss of our safety in some respects. No runner would ever say they fear their safety on a marathon course and now that’s going to change forever,” she said.
“But I think it’s only going to strengthen our conviction for running and the human spirit.”
John Stanton, founder of the Running Room, which co-ordinates running clubs across the country, was urging Canadians on Tuesday to go for a run dedicated to the events in Boston.
“I think everybody is in a state of shock and horror about this and I think today we need to go for a run and reflect on our values, and what’s important,” Stanton said from Edmonton. “Today is a time of reflection.”
Stanton added that Running Rooms across Canada would be holding a moment of silence Wednesday night at 6 p.m. before runners emark on runs dedicated to Boston.
“We have to show people we’re going to be strong and united against this kind of terrorism and carnage,” he said. “Much like running a marathon, there will be high points and low points, but we’ve got to keep moving forward.”
A call was also circulating on social media for runners to wear a race shirt Tuesday as they hit the streets to show their lasting commitment to the sport.
The refusal of a number of Canadians to bow to fear came as security was ramped up at all points of entry across the country.
“Our authorities are at a heightened state of vigilance, especially in respect of border crossings,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
“We want to ensure that if someone would be using our borders to cross into Canada for any inappropriate reason that those individuals are detected.”
Toews added that while he didn’t think there was any need for Canadians to worry, the government wanted to “take precautions” and was working closely with American authorities.
Meanwhile, Heritage Minister James Moore said Canadians stood in solidarity with those in Boston.
“It appears no Canadians were seriously injured or killed in yesterday’s attack, but that doesn’t affect the fact that we are all heartbroken as Canadians,” he said in the House of Commons.
“The prime minister and our government, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama, the mayor of Boston and the governor of Massachusetts as they try to find those cowards who are responsible for this terrible attack.”
Three people died and more than 170 were injured in the twin blasts which rocked the finish line of the storied marathon. More than 2,000 Canadians were registered for the event.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday the bombings were an act of terrorism but investigators do not know if they were carried out by an international or domestic organization, or perhaps by a “malevolent individual.”
Police in some major U.S. cities were monitoring landmarks, government buildings, transit hubs and sporting events.